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Strategic surprise is a precious weapon in terrorist campaigns. Al Qaida managed to achieve this spectacularly on 9/11. Since then, counterterrorism efforts have been improved considerably, both within the American homeland and abroad. The result of this much-heightened state of alert: Out of dozens of significant jihadi terrorist plots against the Western Alliance, only a very few have not been interdicted. 

Whether it is procuring or improvising weaponry, undertaking surveillance or testing an attack plan, specialist training and expertise within a terrorist team are needed for a plot to have a reasonable degree of success. Furthermore, the execution of a commando-style plot, such as hijacking or sabotage, would require a sizable group of assailants. But any major plot has a good chance of being stopped—the more ambitious the plot, the more guys who are involved, the greater is this chance. Too many terrorists spoil the plot.

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